Having the privilege to be able to travel the world is a gift. To be able to experience and learn from different cultures and environments is an opportunity that isn’t afforded to everyone on the plant and that’s why responsible travel needs to be a focus and a priority for those of us fortunate enough to have the means to travel to other countries. So what is Green Travel and how can you get involved?
Green travel or sustainable travel are generic terms to describe travel practices and activities that focus on environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability. To travel in a green frame of mind is when travelers are mindful of the choices they make around transportation, tour operators, and other businesses that facilitate their journey to ensure that these entities operate in a way that ensures the protection and integrity of the environment, and contributes in some way to the local communities and to their economic development. Green travel is all about making sure the travelers needs are met, but not by compromising the needs of future generations and the environment.
There are six common areas that green travelers should try to focus on to make their nomadic adventures more sustainable.
- Locally Spent Dollars. By choosing tour operators or businesses that are owned by or employ local people is a key way to make sure the money you spend stays in the community you travel to. Eat at local restaurants rather than global chains, stay in local accommodation rather that big hotel giants and spend your tourist money on local attractions and local-made gifts for friends and family.
- Watch Your Transportation: Sometimes the only way to get where you’re going is by plane. But, where possible, consider travelling by train, renting hybrid or fuel efficient vehicles, or even better walk or cycle to where you need to go. Every carbon emission counts!
- Consider Conservation: We all want to get off the beaten track when we travel, but when organising your trip be mindful of where you’re going. Pick a destination that enhances the natural integrity of an area, or at least upholds local conservation efforts in protected areas.
- Local Respect: Arguably the most valuable experience you’ll get from your travels is to be utterly immersed in a different culture. Make sure you’re informed about local customs and social differences to your own and try to speak the language wherever you go.
- Environmental Policy & Emission Offsets: Do the maths on the carbon footprint your trip will likely leave first and then consider booking your travel with companies who have a sustainable policy around preservation of the environment and reduction in carbon emissions.
- Reduce, Reuse & Recycle: Be mindful of your water usage, energy consumption and any building materials used by your tour operator and any wastage generated by your travel and where possible reduce it, reuse it, or recycle it.
Travelling to other parts of the world is such a rich and valuable experience for you, the least you can do is leave the countries you travel to in no worse shape than before you visited. Try to make things ‘greener’ where possible, and at worst, leave no trace.